You know how you can tell youth are having fun playing a sport? They leave wondering when the next time will be.
That’s what Angela Carter, the vice-president of Hay River Minor Ball, said about this past weekend’s U12 jamboree at Keith Broadhead Memorial Park. More than a dozen young players from Hay River were joined by 10 from Yellowknife for two days of skill development and tournament-style games.
Carter said it went about as well as it could have with just one tiny issue that was out of her control.
“With the exception of the heat, I can’t complain,” she said. “We had plenty of comments from the kids about how much fun they had and it went off without a hitch.”
The opening night on June 25 featured everyone getting together for a barbecue before the heavy work began the following morning with the skills. Volunteers manned the various stations, which included pitching, fielding and catching fly balls among them. Once that was complete, it was off to play some games with every player divided up into one of two teams.
“Age-wise, skill-wise, gender-wise, community-wise, it was all even, right down the middle,” said Carter. “We played the games for fun and we told the kids they were all close games.”
Scores were being kept as there was a run limit per inning but the players weren’t told who was winning or losing, she added.
For some of the players, this was the first time they got to experience pitching. To help keep the game flowing, there were no walks and if any player worked the count to four balls, the coaches stepped in.
Jenn Lukas, one of the coaches who made the trip in from Yellowknife, said there were some players who showed some interest in pitching and some of them were brand new to the position.
“If anyone got to four balls, the coaches would step and pitch to the batter,” she said.
This was the first jamboree in Hay River for this age group and Carter said she’s planning on having it again next year, if it can be done.
“In a small town like this, you sometimes don’t get enough people to play games,” she said. “The kids left asking when we would be playing again and we even got some extra registrations for minor ball so that’s a big bonus.”